Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Well they are floating around out there in all their stretchy, playful glory so it is high time I share some words and thoughts on my first interlock knit collection!
Here's the official statement: "As the name might imply, Anna Maria Knits is an essential grouping of color and form that perfectly suits the style and function afforded by the versatile jersey cloth. Each of the designs was derived from various collections, but all re-imagined as a group to offer a little something for everyone, ranging from sweet to sophisticated. Some of the simplest and most stylish fashion forms are created from jersey knit, and Anna Maria Knits provides a diverse group of designs well suited for casual tees, charming dresses, inventive skirts, and more. Each of the three colorways inspires multiple mix and match opportunities and gives the modern sewist confident choices to easily translate her favorite looks into home sewn projects. "
Because the collection of imagery is pulled from at least three artwork sources (Dowry, True Colors & Pretty Potent) we named this group Anna Maria Knits. Keep it simple, you know. I have seen it pop up in various locations and referred to as Pretty Potent Knits.... not really sure why, but perhaps because that is my most recent quilting cotton collection... either way, same awesome fabric!! There are 5 prints, in 3 colorways for a total of 15 pieces. The three colorways (listed from the above photos in order) are Carnival, Campground, and Boardwalk.
When choosing the specific knit that I wanted to print my artwork on, I had several to choose from. My goal in selecting one was that it retain color well, be soft, have ample body, be opaque, that it be easy to sew with, and that the weight make it just as suitable for tees as it is for dresses and skirts. This meant that I picked over some others that were more sheer and more stretchy.... both of these things make knits more challenging to sew with and to wear. I love all sorts of knits, but I felt strongly about letting my first group being something that someone who is approaching knit sewing for the first time can feel confident about. In other words if you have sewn with nothing but woven, this is the perfect type of knit for you to make that first step. This particular knit is 100% cotton. It is 58/60" wide.
Just like a woven, this knit stretches more on the width of fabric (selvage to selvage) than it does on the length. So in general you would want to pay close attention to aligning your grainline arrows on patterns with the grain of the fabric if you want it to perform correctly as it stretches around your body. You may hear the word "percentage" thrown around when talking about how much a knit stretches.... and that means what is the percentage further you can stretch the fabric beyond flat and unstretched. This stretch amount is tested and determined to be based on the most you would actually want the material to stretch on your body, and obviously in the case of printed knit it should not be so much stretch that you are warping the designs a great deal. My analysis of this fabric is that it has about a 25% stretch. In other words 10" of width can easily stretch to about 12.5" before warping or over stretching. The retention (bouncing back into shape) is also very good with this fabric.
I want you to close your eyes (well not really since you need to read) and tell yourself that you can sew with knit on your regular ole sewing machine. Because it is true. Especially with this knit fabric. I recommend cutting just as you always would, with either a rotary or sheers or some combination. I recommend using a ballpoint needle or a "stretch" needle in a size suitable for medium weight materials. Regular ole seams can be sewn with regular ole straight stitches. I have hemmed and top-stitched using a simple straight stitch, a zig-zag, and a straight stitch using a twin needle. Of the three methods I like the twin needle the best, the straight stitch second, and the zigzag comes in last place. There are loads of helpful tutorials out there on using a twin needle on your machine. I think you will feel smart and liberated once you try it! Another amazing perk of sewing with knits is no need to finish any edges! Believe me, I love a good serger (especially this one) but (stop reading Janome friends) you really do not need one to sew these knits. For the super stretchy, slinky type knits? I would probably say a good serger is worth the investment if you are serious about your sewing. Like me. I am not smiling at all because I am so serious about my sewing.
I think more than any other fabric that I have designed I highly recommend pre-washing these goods before cutting and sewing as well as considering shrinkage when you are determining yardage requirements. After washing on a cold, normal cycle with normal detergent then drying on a low temperature drying cycle one yard of fabric shrinks a bit more than two inches on the length and right around two exact inches on the width. I did the same wash test with another piece but let it drip dry instead and there was really no difference at all. Now I feel pretty certain (though I didn't test it) that if you were to throw the knit in a high temp dry cycle that it might shrink even more. However that shrinkage might sort of "wear out" as the garment gets through a day in the life. All naturally based fabric, woven and knit, kinda does that anyway. One more thought about the washing: some of the prints that take a bit more ink to achieve the coloration might feel slightly less soft to the touch right off of the bolt. However I found that everything feels equally soft and comfy after a pre-washing. Knowledge people. I am giving you soft and comfy knowledge.
Okay. Who's excited? A run down of your inspiration images up there: The first 3 photos are showing off me and two of my sweeties in the 3 size options of the Lemon Drop Dress & Tunic pattern that I design specifically for these very knits (or any others that you fancy). This pattern has loads of options and includes dress or tunic sizes for 18mos-4toddler, 5/6-11/12girls, and ladies XS-XL. So far I have made myself precisely 3 shirts and two dresses, 3 dress for Mary Anna, a dress for Eleni, and a dress and top for Bela. It is a simple fun sew, and I will be back next to tell you all about that + a very fun knitty/sewy giveaway that we are doing once we get the patterns listed in the shop.
The very last photo is a super simple version of the sleeveless Lemon Drop Tunic where I skipped the neckband but free-motion appliqued favorite raw edge fabric elements. It was worth quickly throwing together in my smoldering attic yesterday to then put on my sweaty self before heading to lunch and has given me about a zillion more ideas of how to play with all this pretty, pretty stuff.